Government and private firms allow their employees extra days off that are not mandated by the law, but granted to staff of their own accord
Time away from work helps employees strike a good work-life balance. With negative job trends like quiet quitting and the great resignation dominating social media feeds in the UAE over the past few months, experts have been calling on employers to pay more attention to their workers’ physical and mental well-being. A recent survey found that 70 per cent of UAE residents struggle with work-life balance due to technology bringing work to homes.
There are nine types of leaves specified for employees under the UAE labour law. These include annual vacation days and leaves for maternity, illness and bereavement. Firms are, by law, required to grant these leaves when employees seek it.
In addition to these guaranteed leaves, government and private sector companies grant additional days off to employees. These are not mandated by the law, but entities grant them of their own accord.
Here, we round up nine such leaves:
Additional day off if public holiday falls on a weekend: By law, if a public UAE holiday falls on an employee’s weekend, companies are not required to give an additional day off. However, some companies do it. “For example, the holiday for New Year 2023 was on Sunday. We were given a day off on Monday to make for it,” said an employee of a Dubai-based company, seeking anonymity.
3-day weekend: The UAE switched to a shorter work week in January 2022. While most private-sector companies shifted to a Saturday-Sunday weekend, some companies added a third day to the weekend, making it a four-day work week for employees. Some companies that have done this are JRN Consultancy, POP Communications and Active DMC.
Paid leave for Haj: By law, companies are required to give a 30-day leave without pay to employees to perform Haj. However, some companies offer paid leaves to employees for the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage. Some companies also give employees time off to perform Umrah, though they are not required to.
Unlimited vacation days: Dubai-based super app Careem offers employees what is known as an unlimited leave policy. As its name suggests, employees are not limited by a capped number of vacation days throughout the year.
One-year entrepreneurship leave: Emiratis working in federal government departments can apply for a year-long ‘Entrepreneurship Leave’. Employees can get time off work as they establish or manage businesses.
Unrestricted leave for fertility treatment: Dubai-headquartered TishTash Communications recently announced “flexible and unrestricted” paid leave for staff to attend medical appointments while undergoing fertility treatment. This includes those wishing to freeze their eggs.
Menstrual leave: Multiple companies offer women days off to deal with extreme pain associated with menstruation. UAE-based multinational Aries Group started offering the option to employees last year. TishTash announced up to six days of menopause and menstrual leave per year recently.
Paternity leave: The UAE law gives male employees the option to take five days off to care for their newborns. Some companies offer additional, generous time off to new fathers. At Fine Hygienic Holding, male employees can get three paid weeks off as paternity leave. They can opt to take an additional unpaid week.
Study leave: Under the new UAE labour law, employees are entitled to a 10-day study leave to pursue education in accredited institutions in the country.